December is truly is the season to be merry, and more importantly, to step outside yourself and focus on what others are doing to change the world. Here’s a look at places to get in touch with your dreams, seek out your deepest passions and be inspired to make a difference in our world by lending a helping hand.
Three students from a Power of Social Technology (PoST) course at Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation (CSI) have leveraged their class assignment of creating a viral video to support Embrace, a social enterprise created in another CSI class: Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability.
The students created the four-minute video and spread it via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo, with the single goal of raising money for Embrace. During the following 10 days, more than $4,000 was raised, the San Jose Mercury News ran a major story on their efforts, bloggers amplified the story, MC Hammer, Loic Le Meur, and Jeff Clavier started tweet waves about it, and Oprah’s O magazine came calling. In India, the CEO of the country’s first interactive digital billboard company offered to play a short version of the video on his screens, pro bono, and the president of the Rotary Club of Bangalore announced that Embrace will be his fundraising project of the year.
In 2008, Chris Taylor set out to read one business or personal development book a week. The idea was to take one concept from each book and use it to make a change in his life. This would allow him to reinvent the way he interacted with the world. The core actionable concepts from books he read are available for free.
In 2010, Chris set out on another mission, this time to interview bestselling authors such as Sally Hogshead, Seth Godin and Dan Pink and learn what their messages mean for employees in the 21st century. The result: Actionable Literacy.
And that’s not all. Half way through 2010, Chris was inspired by a program called Room to Read, an organization that funds literacy projects in third world countries and is focused primarily on building schools and libraries and funding girls’ tuition.
Rallying the subjects from the interview series, Chris and his team put together a DVD package that includes interviews, an audio version of the same content, and a collectors booklet including a bio, image and core messages from each expert. One hundred percent of all profits (less hard costs) from the sale of the DVD will be donated to Room to Read.
GlobalGiving connects you to the causes and countries you care about. You select projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution, and get regular progress updates so you can see how your gift is making a difference.
Astia is an innovative global not-for-profit organization that propels women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. Astia offers programs for high-growth start-ups that deliver results.
EdLeader21 is the nation's first professional learning community dedicated to helping district leaders enhance the 4Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity) in schools. You might also take a look at The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
According to HopeLab's website, in the late 1980s founder Pam Omidyar spent her days as a research assistant in an immunology lab. At night, after hours of watching malignant cancer cells multiply under a microscope, she unwound by playing video games with her husband, Pierre Omidyar, the software engineer who went on to found eBay. As a scientist and game enthusiast, Pam began to wonder if giving young cancer patients a chance to blast their cancer in a video game might actually improve their health. In 2001, Pam founded HopeLab to develop and test this concept, which led to their first product, Re-Mission.
Today HopeLab’s nonprofit mission is to combine rigorous research with innovative solutions to improve the health and quality of life of young people with chronic illness.
These are just a handful of enterprises that we can learn from and contribute to as they make a positive impact in our world. It takes one good idea to start a movement. There are plenty of other great causes out there to support this holiday season and beyond. What's your favorite do-good enterprise?
About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Laurel at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney.